The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, November 25, 2005

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

I love Shane Black's work (Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy Scout) and I really wanted to love KISS KISS BANG BANG, his directoral debut.  I'd heard so many good things about it that I thought I was about to see another Pulp Fiction.  No such luck.  This convoluted story, about a thief pretending to be an actor pretending to be a detective (don't ask) is too clever by half, and entirely too cynical to be the fluffy entertainment it yearns to be, too self-referential and aware to be a noir detective film, and too insider-joke Hollywoody to really be successful in the general market.  The setup is that the aforementioned faux actor has a chance to impress his childhood sweetheart by solving a mystery involving her kid sister.  There's a damsel in distress, several dirty dogs, a gay private eye (played by Val Kilmer...and in some ways, this is the gayest film I've seen in a long time for a number of fun reasons), double and triple crosses, and a pretty decent mystery at the heart of it all.  Still, there's no real consistency to the characters--the thief/actor (an excellent Robert Downy Jr.) just isn't streetsmart enough to be a criminal, and acts like an actor, tossing off observations about Hollywood only someone who's been out here long enough to get seriously disenchanted would know.  In fact, the entire movie plays like Shane Black's rejection of the entire ethos that made his fortune in the first place.  The fact that the film sets itself up for a sequel makes me feel a bit Shane rejecting action movie formulas?  Embracing them?  Hard to say, but although I enjoyed this, I'm a die-hard fan of both action films and detective novels, so I really enjoyed what he was doing.  It just wasn't the break-through clever movie I hoped for.  Pity.  I'll give it a "B."
And by the way--there are only two black characters, and both of them die.  So there.

1 comment:

courtenay said...

I loved this movie.